Who’s Prophet Taha (peace be upon him)?
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level”
- Michael H. Hart author of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.
With this we begin our search to understand a man often slandered and insulted as often as he is revered and respected. In fact, the name “Muhammad” will elicit a response from most people. However, when studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), we come to realize, despite all the polarization surrounding his character, he truly was a simple yet deeply meaningful person.
Born on the 17th of Rabi’ al-awwal of the 53rd year before the Hijrah (570 A.D) in modern day Mecca located in Saudi Arabia. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born into the Hashemite family that was part of the tribe of Quraysh which lived in Mecca. His father Abdullah died before he was born. His mother passed away when he was 6 years old. He was raised by his grandfather and later on, his uncle.
Even before his prophethood, his character was to be admired. He was a young but trust worthy merchant who would establish a council for the protection of other traders who came to Mecca on business trips. This initiative also reveals the state of social ills plaguing the the pre-Islamic world the Prophet lived in where mistrust and deception were nothing to be ashamed of.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was greatly offended by the moral decline of the society he lived in. It was his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Mountain of Light close to Mecca. One night when he was forty years old, he was visited in the cave by the angel Gabriel who brought to him the first revelation of the Holy Quran.
In the name of God, the Kind, the Merciful. Recite, in the name of your Lord who created, Created the human being from a clot of blood, Recite, and your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen, Taught the human being that which he knew not.” (Holy Quran 96:1-5)
This was just the first of many revelations which continued for twenty three years known as the Holy Quran which is Islam’s holy text. Upon returning home on the day of the first revelation, he confided in his wife Lady Khadija, who immediately accepted him as the divine messenger of the one God – Allah. As did his cousin Ali, the son of Abu Talib. Eventually the Prophet would have 50-some followers and supporters in Mecca. He was commanded by God to announce his prophethood to the general public. In Islam, there are 124,000 Prophets chosen by God to guide humanity towards righteousness. The last prophet and messenger was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, they faced very severe persecution in Mecca and there were threats made against the Prophet who had been preaching the basic message of belief in the one God – Allah, his prophethood, the justice of God and the day of judgment.
This led to one of the most significant events that would alter the world forever as the Prophet Muhammad was commanded by God to emigrate to Madina also located in modern day Saudi Arabia. This event is known as the Hijra (the Arabic word for migration).
In Madina, the Prophet began to introduce Islamic laws and regulations regarding charity, prayer, and pilgrimage. He also modeled a leadership style that promoted tolerance towards the various religions that lived in the cities he led. He did not force Islam on others and instead used manners and conduct to model the essence of the religion he preached of.
To different people, the Prophet held different meanings. To the poor, he was their provider and friend. To the average person, he was an approachable source of advice and wisdom. To other leaders, he was an example of just and kind leadership. His many esteemed qualities can be found in the many titles he has. Among his titles as stated in the Holy Quran are: Ahmad (Holy Quran, 61:6), Apostle (Holy Quran 7:15,), and Abdallah (God’s Servant) as stated in the Holy Quran, 72:19. One of the Prophet’s most famous names however, is Taha. Taha is the 20th chapter of the Holy Quran and has 135 verses. It begins with the following:
“In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
“ Taha. We did not send down the Qur’an to you that you will distress yourself. But only as a reminder to him who fears (Allah). It has been sent down from Him Who created the earth and the high heavens” (Holy Quran, chapter 20, 1-4).
The 6th Imam, Jafar al-Sadiq (pbuh) explains the significance of this verse by indicating that Taha is one of the names of the Prophet (pbuh), and it means: “’O seeker of the truth and the leader to it.”
In the year 632 A.D, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) accompanied by thousands of Muslims went on a pilgrimage to Mecca for the last time. On his return journey to Madina in a place called Ghadeer, the angel Gabriel revealed the last verse of the Holy Quran:
…This day I (Allah) have perfected your religion for you, completed My favors upon you, and have chosen for your Islam as a religion” (Holy Quran 5:3).
This was another significant event in the life of the Prophet because he appointed Ali, his cousin and son in law as the Imam (leader) of Muslims after him.
A few months later at the age of 63 years Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) passed away in Madina. He in buried under the green dome of the mosque he had built when he first entered the city during Hijra.